Last weekend, the semifinals concluded with two of the most thrilling matches we have ever seen in Collegiate Chess League history. Both matches came down to the very last game of the match with thousands of dollars on the line and a spot in the finals to be played this weekend. Below are the semifinals highlights and a preview of the finals. Be sure to tune in this weekend to see the ultimate conclusion of the season and find out who will take home the championship title!
How to watch?
This weekend marks the end of the historic fourth season of the Collegiate Chess League, with finals and third-place matches streamed on Saturday, May 21, and Sunday, May 22. Here is the schedule for this weekend’s streams with commentary from IM Eric Rosen. You won’t want to miss it!
Saturday, May 21
- 8 a.m. Pacific: D1 3rd Place Yale vs. Mizzou
- 9 a.m. Pacific: D2 Finals Duke vs. Temple
- 10 a.m. Pacific: D1 Finals UTRGV vs. UChicago
- 11 a.m. Pacific: D4 3rd Place Duke C vs. UToronto
Sunday May 22
- 9 a.m. Pacific: D3 Finals Indian Institute of Technology BHU vs. Northeastern
- 10 a.m. Pacific: D4 Finals Université de Franche-Comté vs. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign B
- 11 a.m. Pacific: D13 Finals Boston University D vs. Baylor C
- 12 p.m. Pacific: D7 Finals UC Santa Barbara B vs. Santa Clara University
The undefeated Yale team took on the sixth seeded UChicago team. Yale was the second seed making them the favorite to win the match, but UChicago won the championship last season and put up a strong fight to defend their title.
The Chicago team started off with a strong 3-1 score in the first round only losing to Yale’s top board GM Nicolas Checa. Yale would answer back winning the second round 2.5-1.5 only losing to Chicago’s top board GM Awonder Liang. In round three Chicago was able to reclaim their two-point lead with the score being 7-5 in their favor going into the fourth and final round. Yale would need an improbable 3.5-0.5 score to win the match and complete the comeback taking them to the finals for the first time in Yale’s history.
Liang was 3-0 at this point despite him starting each game with 1.Nh3 as White and 1…Na6 as Black. His dubious opening choice didn’t work against Checa who managed to hand him his first loss of the match. UChicago’s board two GM Praveen Balakrishnan similarly lost to Yale’s FM Yoony Kim who forked Balakrishnan’s king and queen in a lost position in time pressure. With Yale taking down Chicago’s two grandmasters and a draw on board four, the match was all tied up 7.5-7.5 with only one game remaining between NM Dex Webster and NM William Graif. Webster was up an entire bishop but was under heavy time pressure when they played an infamous Botez gambit blundering the queen for free. You can watch the moment it happened in the clip of the week.
Graif shortly won thereafter giving UChicago the 8.5-7.5 win along with a trip back to the finals to defend their championship.
The other division one semifinal matchup was between the powerhouses University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley and Mizzou. UTRGV was 8-0 on the season including playoffs earning them the number-one seed overall. Mizzou is the number-five seed with only two losses in the regular season, but it’s hard to imagine they aren’t the favorites with four grandmasters on their team compared to Texas with two grandmasters and international masters each.
Mizzou opened up the scoring in the first round taking a dominant 3.5-0.5 lead. Texas gained some composure in the next round splitting the four games 2-2. In round three, Rio Grande Valley managed to win their first round of the match 3-1 to bring the score back to 5.5-6.5. Mizzou still had a one-point lead going into the fourth round and would only need to split it 2-2 to hold onto the win, but UTRGV managed to win the first two games of the round to take their first lead of the match 7.5-6.5. Mizzou would answer back with a win of their own to tie it 7.5-7.5 with the winner of the last game to decide the match. In this game, GM Arman Mikaelyan from Texas was playing GM Mikhail Antipov from Missouri with the match on the line.
Mikaelyan would prevail ending with an impressive 3.5/4 score to help send his team to the finals for the first time in their club’s history. UTRGV improves their record to 9/9 on the season and is looking to make it a perfect 10/10 this weekend with $5,000 on the line in the championship match against the defending champs UChicago.
Game of the Week
There were many fantastic games played this weekend in the semifinals from both the Yale vs. UChicago match as well as the UTRGV vs. Mizzou match which you can watch the replays of on YouTube, but the game of the week goes to GM Kamil Dragun from UTRGV in his victory over Mizzou’s top board GM Grigoriy Oparin.
Taking down Oparin was crucial in Rio Grande Valley’s 8.5-7.5 win over Mizzou, and UTRGV’s team will look to continue this success in the final match of the season against UChicago’s stars GLiang and Balakrishnan.
Clip of the Week
This week’s clip comes from the unbelievable finish between UChicago and Yale in the division one semifinals.
Live broadcast of the Collegiate Chess League is available at twitch.tv/collegiatechessleague; commentary provided by Joe Lee and NM John Williams.
These are the final two teams remaining in each division, and they will fight for their share of the $25,000 prize fund along with their division championship title.
Division 1: #1 UTRGV vs. #6 UChicago for $5,000.
Division 2: vs #1 Duke vs. #3 Temple for $2,500.
Division 3: #1 Indian Institute of Technology BHU vs. #11 Northeastern University for $1,500.
Division 4: #1 Universite de Franche-Comte vs. #3 University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign B for $1,000.
Division 5: #1 Asia Pacific University vs. #11 Yale C for $750.
Division 6: #2 University at Buffalo vs. #12 American University of Armenia for $500.
Division 7: #1 UC Santa Barbara vs. #3 Santa Clara University for $400.
Division 8: #1 Bangladesh University vs. #2 University of Manchester for $300.
Division 9: #3 UC Berkeley F vs. #5 Washington University in St. Louis C for $250.
Division 10: #1 University of Arizona B vs. #7 Indiana University B for $200.
Division 11: #2 Mizzou B vs. #8 Georgia Tech C for $200.
Division 12: #4 University of Waterloo D vs. #3 UT Austin C for $150.
Division 13: #3 Boston University D vs. #4 Baylor C for $100.
Division 14: #2 UNLV C vs. #4 Northeastern University D for four one-year Diamond memberships.
The full list of division standings and playoff brackets are available here after you navigate to Collegiate Chess.
Lastly, if you are interested in becoming a college ambassador for Chess.com, check out our article on what it means to be an ambassador and how to apply. Congratulations to those that were just accepted this week! Applications for the summer program will close on June 1.
For any league-related questions, please email Commissioner Joe Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.